Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Questions

Recent History | Gender Identity Questions | Timeline | FAQs | Definition of Terms

A Recent History

On Oct. 8, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 620 (AB 620), which includes a request that the University of California provide the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to report their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression on any forms used to collect demographic data.

In 2012, then­-UC President Mark Yudof created and charged the Task Force and Implementation Team on LGBT Climate and Inclusion (LGBT Task Force) with developing priorities, strategies, and expected resource requirements to advance recommendations submitted by the LGBT Working Group of the President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate and Inclusion. On May 30, 2014, the LGBT Task Force presented a report to UC President Janet Napolitano that included a recommendation to implement AB 620.

In September 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano formed the President’s Advisory Council on LGBT Students, Faculty, and Staff, which is comprised of faculty, LGBT Center staff, students, and community experts. They were charged with establishing the UC system as the gold standard for LGBT issues, and providing recommendations for the implementation of AB 620 by collecting data on gender identity and sexual orientation through the admission application.

In October 2014, UCSC Graduate Studies began collecting gender identity and sexual orientation information from applicants.

In November 2015, gender identity and sexual orientation questions were included on all UC undergraduate applications.

Providing the LGBT community with the option to self-­identify supports the university’s priorities of creating an inclusive and welcoming campus environment across the UC system. Including these questions on the application is a signal to applicants that UC is an inclusive environment and that the LGBT community is part of it. As with all other demographic questions on the admission application, providing gender identity and sexual orientation data is voluntary, optional, and, as required by law, will not impact admission decisions. All new, current, and former students may update their answers at any time through MyUCSC.

For students, there are three primary ways to report lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) demographic data: through the admission application, through MyUCSC, and through surveys, such as the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES). One benefit to reporting information through the application or through MyUCSC is that the university will receive more complete information, whereas UCUES survey data is limited by only those who respond.

The following is the wording of the gender identity and sexual orientation questions:

Gender Identity

How do you describe yourself? (Mark one answer)

  • Male

  • Female

  • Trans Male/Trans Man

  • Trans Female/Trans Woman

  • Genderqueer/Gender Non­Conforming

  • Different Identity

What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate? (Mark one answer)

  • Male

  • Female

Sexual Orientation

Do you consider yourself to be: (Mark one answer)

  • Heterosexual or straight
  • Gay

  • Lesbian

  • Bisexual

  • Not listed above (please specify)                    

In addition to indicating Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation, beginning in July 2016 UCSC students will have the ability to indicate their preferred name and preferred pronouns on MyUCSC. For information regarding preferred name please visit:­info.html.


October 2014—Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Questions available on UCSC Graduate Admissions Application.

November 2015—Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Questions available on UC Admissions Application.

August 2016—Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Questions available through MyUCSC Self­Service. Preferred Name and Preferred Pronouns released through MyUCSC Self­Service. Email sent informing current students of Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Preferred Name and Pronouns questionnaires.

November 2016—Survey sent to respondents to determine student service and support options.

April 2018—Gender Orientation question from UCSC Graduate Admissions Application available to all students through MyUCSC Self Service.

April 2018—Preferred Pronouns available to instructors on Class Roster.

April 2018—Service and Support “Opt­-in” available to students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How were the gender identity questions developed? [show]

A: The Transgender Health Advocacy Coalition in Philadelphia developed the two-­step question protocol for gender identity data collection in 1997. The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health and UC San Francisco began advocating the use of the two­-step protocol in 2007, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopted it in 2011. The two-­step method was also cognitively tested by two research teams as part of the Williams Institute’s research on best practices to identify transgender people and other gender minorities through population-­based surveys. The UC Admissions Application and the self­-service update follow this protocol.

Q: Why does the gender identity measure comprise two questions? [show]

A: The two-­step question protocol for gender identity data collection involves first querying the respondent’s current gender identity, followed by a second question that asks the respondent to state their sex assigned at birth. Research has shown that together, these two variables work well in identifying transgender and other gender minority respondents. The two items are cross-­tabulated to identify those who currently identify with their assigned sex (non­transgender) and those who do not currently identify with their assigned sex at birth (transgender and other gender minorities).

Q: How was the sexual orientation question developed? [show]

A: The Williams Institute at UCLA recommended the question regarding sexual orientation after a five-­year study of sexual orientation measures. The question has been thoroughly tested and is currently in use in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and other state-­level surveys. In keeping with approaches employed by NHIS and CHIS, respondents are provided a space to self-­identify if the available answer options do not suit them.

Q: Why were questions concerning gender expression not included in the admission application? [show]

A: AB 620 does not mandate UC to ask gender expression questions. Thus, in an effort to limit the number of demographic questions asked on the admission application, gender expression questions will be added to future iterations of the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES).

Gender expression questions would enable campuses to identify those who are gender non­conforming but who do not personally identify as transgender or another gender minority.

Q: Why are gender identity and sexual orientation data not being collected through the Student Intent to Register (SIR) or the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES)? [show]

A: UC has opted not to collect gender identity and sexual orientation data through the SIR because:

  1. other aggregate demographic data are not collected through that instrument; and

  2. the SIR is not centrally managed, so extracting data would pose ongoing difficulties.

UCUES is administered every two years, which would deny campuses the yearly opportunity to know their incoming cohort of students. From a data perspective, integrating these questions into the admission application with an ability to update through self­-service provides a consistent way for the university to collect this information and integrate it with other data sources. If the data are collected through a separate process, there is no guarantee that the information will be in a format the university can use.

Q: How will UCSC use responses? [show]

A: Data collected on gender identity and sexual orientation will provide UCSC with meaningful population data necessary for establishing and maintaining resources and other student support services (e.g., scholarships and themed housing). The data will also enable campuses to develop curricular and co­curricular offerings that reflect students’ diverse perspectives, and that promote a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students.

Data collected should be included on the student record and is used for aggregate reporting only. Students will have the option to opt-in to send data to service and support units in early 2017, otherwise the data will be used for reporting only.

Note: As a recipient of federal Title IV financial aid funds, UC is required to gather and report demographic data for undergraduate and graduate students, including gender data. For federal reporting purposes (i.e., IPEDS), Trans Female/Trans Woman will be reported as women, and Trans Male/Trans Man will be reported as men. In addition, genderqueer and gender nonconforming individuals will be reported as their sex assigned at birth.

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Definitions of the Terms Used in the Data Collection Questions

(For additional terms and resources, visit the UCSC Cantú Queer website at:

Bisexual—A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or toward people regardless of their gender.

Gay—A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender.

Gender—A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity.

Gender Expression—How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress, mannerisms, and/or behaviors that society characterizes as “masculine” or “feminine.”

Gender Nonconforming—People who do not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.

Genderqueer—A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant social norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them.

Heterosexual/Straight—A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of a gender other than their own.

Lesbian—A woman whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same gender.

Transgender—Used most often as an umbrella term; some commonly held definitions:

  1. someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit within dominant group social constructs of assigned sex and gender;

  2. a gender outside of the man/woman binary;

  3. having no gender or multiple genders.

Trans Man/Trans Male—A female-­to­-male (FTM) transgender person who was assigned female at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a man.

Trans Woman/Trans Female—A male­-to­-female (MTF) transgender person who was assigned male at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a woman.


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 Revised: 06/25/18